“S-sir” Momose stumbled onto his knees and bowed his head deeply to Riku. Gaku and Mitsuki went to Riku’s sides, bending on one knee. “I’m so so sorry. I’m really sorry! I didn’t mean to hurt him. P-please-“
Momose was clearly shaken. He was a commoner incapable of using magic, making him an easy target for insults and abuses from the highborn. Momose was an orphan, found as a baby near the village by the sea. None knew of his lineage. Even when people treated him terribly, Momose’s kindness did not disappear. He helped everyone whenever he could.
Riku cut him off. “Sunohara, raise your head.” Momose slowly looked up. He gasped when he saw Mitsuki and Gaku bending down by Riku’s side. Momose thought the red haired guy must be on a very high level in the society since he seemed to be served by other nobles.
“If you truly did not mean to harm my guest then apologise to him, not me.” Riku spoke in a calm, lord-like manner which made Momose feel more at ease, strangely. The nobles he had met all acted like scums who enjoyed boasting about their power and influence. Momose immediately turned to Mitsuki. He apologised and bowed endlessly. Mitsuki said it was fine. He wasn’t badly hurt and understood why Momose would be so afraid after all that happened to him.
“Very well.” The lord finally gave a reserved smile. Momose found it to be pretty. “Now, it seems you have turned my garden into quite a...fantasy” Riku walked towards the wall of roses, almost tripped because of the knee-length wild grass. Gaku’s swift reaction saved his clumsy lord from falling. Even though the branches were thick and thorny, the red roses were oversized but elegant.
Momose looked like he was in a pinch again. “...I-I can’t...turn them back” He dug his fingernails into his palms.
“Do not worry. I did not expect you do.” Riku turned around and gave that reserved smile to Momose again. The lord walked towards the kneeling villager and offered his hand. Momose took it and stood back up. Gaku signalled for Mitsuki to rise. “You are a Geomancer, am I correct?” Riku asked Momose. The villager seemed confused. “Geo...mancer?”
Riku shrugged his eyebrows. It indicated that Momose did not know what he was capable of. After all, Geomancy was similar to Beastmastery in a way that they were both forgotten ancient arts used by non-magic users. A Geomancer can control nature to a certain extent using the power of songs.
Momose explained that he had never managed to figure out how to handle his power. It seemed to run wild whenever he felt something strongly. It had always caused trouble to people such as turning a small calm river into one full of waves.
He was trembling. “I-I sensed something just before the lightning hit our village. It was such an uneasy feeling that I lost my power control, making the ground underneath me open up and swallow my whole body. After that I heard a super, super loud thunder and everything went black.”
“What a miracle! Your power protected you!” Mitsuki spoke. Both him and Gaku were amazed to hear what happened. Momose learned he was saved by Riku and Gaku so he thanked them several times.
“There must be a way to control and make use of it.” The butler turned his head to his lord. Gaku saw Momose as a golden opportunity. Some of the herbs needed for making Riku’s medicine do not grow in Winter. A Geomancer may be able to make them grow instantly regardless of the season. Since Riku knew about Geomancy, surely he had records on them which Momose could study from. Still, Gaku was different from Sousuke. He would never force Momose to do something he did not wish to do even if he could use his authority.
Riku couldn’t read Gaku’s mind but he could tell that his butler was interested in the villager’s ability. “Sunohara, I am sorry you had to go through such a horrible tragedy. While this may not be the time, what do you plan to do from now on?”
Instead of heading to the bathroom, Tenn came to a stop in front of Iori’s bedroom. The scientist was clearly crying. It wasn’t loud but Tenn’s hearing was sensitive enough. Tenn placed his hand gently on the door handle.
He took a deep breath. “Here goes”
Without knocking, Tenn opened the door and walked inside, heading straight for Izumi’s top bunk bed. Luckily the room wasn’t locked or it would be terribly awkward.
“Nanase-san?!?” Iori did not have time to dry his tears. His cheeks were still slightly wet and his eyes were a bit swollen. Tenn climbed up the ladder and sat on the edge of the bed without hesitation.
“Why are you crying?” Tenn demanded answers.
It’s because of you! “I’m not-“ Tenn glared at Iori’s face and cut him off right away. “There’s no use denying it when your face is wet. Tell me. Now.”
Iori remained quiet. The younger boy tried to avoid Tenn’s gaze. Tenn huffed. “Look, Izumi” He gave up trying to make an eye contact with Iori so he stared at the basic white wall in front of him instead. “I know this isn’t about your brother.”
“...how?” Iori asked with his shaky voice.
“It’s obvious, kid” Tenn let his leg swing in the air. “I’ll move out as soon as I have enough money. Then I won’t be a bother to you anymore. Of course I’ll repay you for all you’ve done to me.”
Iori froze on the spot. His eyes went wide. He ended up looking at Tenn with a surprised face of his. No that’s not it at all! Iori thought, but he failed to find words in his messy mind. He wanted to say something. Anything. He needed to tell Tenn he was thinking the opposite. He wanted Tenn to stay.
“Well then, Izumi, have a good night”
When Iori did not object, Tenn climbed back down and left the room, closing the door gently behind him.
Tenn let the water from the shower hit his face fully. I have been travelling for three years and never have I stayed in one place for longer than a week. I’ve stayed here for over weeks. It’s normal to have some feelings of attachment. Tenn tried to tell himself it was only right to leave. This was not an inn, it was a stranger’s house. A stranger who did not want him here.
Somehow Tenn did not want to believe it.
Tenn put his chin down and stood under the water for a good 10 minutes.
The air became awkward around the magic user and the scientist. Both of them continued their daily routines without really saying anything much to one another. They had dinner together every night in silence. The only times they talked were when they exchanged their greetings.
One morning, Tenn added extra lines to his greeting. “Good morning, Izumi. I’m going to an audition today. I just thought I should let you know.” With that, Tenn went back to his room to get ready.
Iori had the same surprised face as that night. audition... That word sent reality to smack his face. It was a painful reminder that Iori only had a limited amount of time to clear up this misunderstanding...
before he lost Tenn.
Tenn left home before Iori. The high school student went to grab the packed lunch on the kitchen counter before leaving.
3 hours in school and Iori could not concentrate at all. The teacher even called him out for spacing out. Him. The perfect high school student. His mind was picturing the day Tenn would turn his back to him and walk away.
All because he was too afraid to say what he thought.
Tenn was sitting on one of the chairs near to several other aspiring idols who came for an audition. He definitely came prepared and focused. He was a man of talents after all. Those talents shone even more with Iori’s management and analytical skills.
Tenn shook his head. True, he was definitely focused enough to do his audition, but the name Iori came to his mind from time to time during a quiet and uneventful moment such as waiting.
What's with that face? It was just like the other night.
Tenn stood up and walked confidently forward to the staffs who called for him.
Well, there's no turning back now.
The next class was about to start for Iori. Students were finding seats in their classroom. Iori was already there, but he was very restless.
It felt like that day.
“Have a safe trip, mom, dad.”
Iori recalled the day his Nii-san and him waved goodbye to their parents who were going away on a vacation. The parents hugged their sons before saying “Be good okay boys? I love you both”
“I love you too mom, dad!” Mitsuki shouted and smiled happily. Although, Iori remained quiet and hid behind his brother.
If Iori had known it was the last time he could express his love to them, he would have said it a thousand times.
Iori suddenly slammed his school desk before standing up. He hurriedly packed away his stuffs and bolted out the door. His teacher was on their way in the classroom. Iori only bowed and took off running like a mad man.
It’s not going to happen.
I refuse to let it happen!
Momose stood in front of the lord in his thinking pose. He thought long and hard. There was nothing left for him at the village. He had nothing valuable on him except for the power which he could not control. Finding jobs has always been the biggest challenge for Momose. He no longer had a home to go to and would definitely be in danger sleeping outside.
The villager looked up nervously at Riku, Gaku and then Mitsuki. They all were waiting for answers yet they had no demanding aura around them. Momose could be very wrong. What if they saved him because they had hidden evil intentions? What if they were just pretending to be forgiving?
No. Momose shook his head internally. I should be grateful for these people.
Then the reality hit him hard.
I should be grateful, but...but...I don’t know what to do!
“Sirs!” Momose took a deep breath and shouted. “Please take me as your apprentice! I really wanna learn magic! Or..or learn to use this Geomancy...thing. In return, I’ll do anything you ask please!” He begged with his puppy eyes.
The wind was blowing in Gaku’s way, huh?
Gaku took a step forward. His scary face was enough to make Momose feel intimidated. “I am afraid that will not do.”
The villager’s heart sank. Guess he would have to go back to the harsh world after all.
“Oi don’t give me that look. I'm not done talking.” Momose’s shocked face made Gaku feel bad.
“None of us knows Geomancy” Riku explained. “So you would have to study on your own from a book we have.” The redhead smiled.
“Does that mean...?” A light of hope was shining through Momose’s cracked heart again.
Gaku nodded. “You will be trained as a butler to serve high lord Nanase Riku-sama.
Momose smiled half way before freezing up.
Iori ran as fast as he could. He didn’t care how people shouted at him for almost bumping into them. The boy just felt the need to get to the Tenn’s audition quickly. To Anesagi Productions.
Luckily Iori had researched before about where it was located. He got to the nearest sky train station and hopped on an express train.
The receptionist looked at him questioningly when he arrived at Anesagi Productions panting heavily. “Where is the audition?!?”
Iori was hit with a wave of disappointment when the female staff in front of him said it had finished a little while ago. He shook his head. “Please, I need to see someone. He might still be here.”
Seeing as Iori was desperate, the staff let him pass and go upstairs to the audition room. The agency wasn’t big at all. It just had a reception for ‘professional purpose’.
Iori’s heart was pounding hard as he approached the training room which was used for audition. He did not come across anyone in the hallway who seemed to have come for an audition. Just when he thought he was too late, someone pushed open the training room door.
Exactly the person Iori was looking for.
Tenn’s eyes widened when he saw the boy who had been lingering in his mind.
Tenn shut the door behind him, took two steps forward when Iori walked to him and stopped right in front. His greyish blue eyes were reflecting his resolve.
“Did you pass?”
Tenn stared at Iori with a straight face before replying “Of course I did.”
“Tenn-san” Iori leaned forward a little and grabbed Tenn’s shoulder firmly, but without an intention to hurt him. “Please...don’t leave.”
“Please stay with me. I-I don’t want you to leave. I...”
Iori closed his eyes and shouted
“I like you Tenn-san!!”
Iori would have looked cool if his face wasn’t totally red and if his eyes weren’t slightly teary from embarrassment.
Tenn’s face went pink after a few seconds of registering what was happening. He looked away. “Why didn’t you say anything?”
Tenn was happy. Happy that Iori confessed to him, but he was still bitter. Why didn’t Iori just say it that night. Why did he leave it until now? Tenn wouldn’t have been feeling so conflicted all the time.
“I know I am an idiot, Tenn-san.” Iori released his grip. “I am sorry.”
Tenn sighed before walking past Iori down the hallway. The high school student froze seeing Tenn walking away from him.
It's too late...
Tenn came to a brief stop and turned his head halfway back to Iori. “Why are you standing there? Let’s go home, Mister Tsundere” He resumed walking.
“...! I’m coming!” Iori ran after him.
Tenn, being a certain distance away from Iori, muttered under his breath.
“I like you too, Izumi”